Home :: Travel Money
Do you need to travel on a budget?
Many of us have, at one time or another, voiced one of the following sentiments:
"I can't afford to travel." "I have no money to see the world." "I just wish I could take off around the world but that'll never happen."
True, travel does cost money - but it may be less than you think with these four basic ways to stretch your funds and travel the world on a budget.
What follows are some savvy tips on saving money for a trip that will be helpful if you're a first-time traveler or if you're planning a long-term trip for the first time.
If you've already experienced what it’s like to save up for a trip, chances are you've tested one or more of these but if you still want to travel and aren't making ends meet, you might be in need of a refresher!
But before you do anything else, you need to know how much your trip will cost. I've put together a comprehensive resource page on how to plan your travel budget so read that first if you haven't yet got a $$ figure in mind for your trip.
You can also use this Budget My Trip printable planner to create a plan and answer the elusive question, “How much money to you need to travel?”
It’s always easier to budget when you know where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. You don’t have to stick to an itinerary but total spontaneity can hurt your wallet.
While preparing to travel long-term, I also did something that motivated me tremendously: I created a travel vision board, a huge wall of cardboard where I stuck pictures of places I wanted to see and scribbled sayings related to travel. I wrote up quotes on index cards that I pasted all over my walls. So whenever I was tempted to throw my hands up in despair and head off on a shopping spree (or ice cream binge), I saw my cards. The ones that reminded me that the reason I was suffering was because I wanted to TRAVEL. And that soon, I wouldn't have to worry about any work AT ALL!
When I started preparing my own round-the-world trip, the first thing I did was to look at my expenses and decide what I could cut. My criteria were simple: if I desperately NEEDED something - electricity, heating, food - it stayed on the list. If it was merely a pleasure, an addition, a desire - it got chopped off. I was brutal.
In my search for how to save money for travel, here are some of the things I did:
It's not a painless process but if you need money to travel, the best place to get it is in your own pocket. If you have the opportunity to find a side hustle, grab it.
One way to do this is by getting a second, or a third job doing anything you can do. If you have a skill you haven’t used in a while, brush up on it. It can be in photography, massage therapy, knitting, cooking, or graphic design, anything that might help you find a few clients in your spare time. If you have no skills to brush up, there’s probably something out there you can do - landscaping help, dog-walking, coffee barista-ing, Ubering. It may be low-skill and low-paying, but in addition to your normal 9-5 and your extra savings, it can bring those travel dates closer.
Another approach - more lucrative but it takes longer to get off the ground - is to start an online career. It won’t just help you save money for your trip, it’ll help you make money while you travel (which is point #4 on this list). If you become location-independent now, it means you won’t have to go back home to save up for your next trip. You can just keep travelling.
If you’re a working professional, think about how you can apply your skills to remote work. Consider becoming a virtual assistant (remote administrative staff) and provide business support for companies across the globe. Do you write? Take Nomadic Matt’s travel writing course and start freelancing for magazines and newspapers.
Just browse through available jobs on Freelancer.com and see what’s out there: you might be surprised how many agencies are looking for ad hoc work that you are more than qualified to offer.
I've written extensively about how to travel cheaply, even if you're almost broke. Here are a few more tips on budget solo travel based on my own experience and those of fellow travelers:
First things first: make a plan. That was #1 and #2.
Next, do your research: How much does it cost to travel Europe? Or Asia? Or the UK? I recommend checking out these city price guides by The Savvy Backpacker to get a general idea of what you’re looking at. It’s always a good idea to estimate high: expect the unexpected and have cash in your pocket to pay for it.
Here are some other ways to save on travel:
And finally - stay legal. Fines cost money, not to mention possible prison sentences and other unpleasant things.
This has been one of my preferred ways of staying on the road: the cost to travel for a year reduces significantly if you can offset it by making money on the road. I've done all sorts of things, from translations to teaching English to selling toilet seats - all with one goal in mind: to stay on the road as long as I could.
The world is a bit more sophisticated now and we have the internet, which is a gold mine for those of us who want to work without having to go to the office (see earlier point #2). All those online jobs are a great idea for funding your travels, and you’ll never be “unemployed.”
Even if online work isn’t your thing, you can make money on the road, in more ways than you can imagine! If you're drawing a blank, here are a few ideas of the kinds of jobs you can find as you travel, depending on your skill level.